What is JIT? A Brief Introduction
Efficiency and cost-effectiveness are two key drivers of success for any orthodontic practice. One strategy that promises both is the Just-in-Time (JIT) inventory management system.
The concept of JIT originated in Japan in the late 1960s and was pioneered by Toyota as a means to improve manufacturing efficiency. The name ‘Just-in-Time’ is a reflection of the system’s aim: to ensure that parts and materials are available exactly when and where they’re needed in the production process, and not before.
Over time, the principles of JIT, initially tailored for the automotive industry, have been adapted and applied in various sectors, demonstrating their flexibility and effectiveness. In the field of orthodontics, JIT can be seamlessly integrated to enhance inventory management, thereby minimizing costs and optimizing resource use. In this article, we’ll walk you through the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of implementing JIT in your practice.
Implementing JIT Management to Benefit Your Practice
The importance of JIT inventory management can’t be overlooked. It helps you focus on ordering and receiving supplies precisely when they’re needed, minimizing storage requirements and freeing up capital tied up in unused inventory.
Successful implementation of JIT management in your practice means reduced overhead costs, less wastage from expired materials, more efficient use of storage space, and improved cash flow. Here’s how you go about implementing it:
Understanding Your Patients
Implementing JIT begins with a thorough understanding of your patient base. By analyzing appointment trends and treatments provided, you can anticipate the type and volume of supplies needed.
One powerful tool for this analysis is your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Historical CRM data can provide a wealth of information on patient behavior and treatment patterns. Analyzing this data can reveal not only the most common types of treatments performed, but also seasonal or demographic trends in treatment requests. This information can be crucial in accurately predicting future supply needs.
In addition to understanding your baseline needs—the standard supplies required for everyday operations—it’s also important to consider the impact of seasonal trends.
For instance, you may notice an uptick in appointments before the school year begins, as parents schedule check-ups and treatments for their children, or during certain holiday seasons when people have more free time.
Understanding these patterns, with the aid of CRM data, will enable you to prepare for and order supplies in a timely manner, ensuring your practice can meet patient needs without excessive stockpiling of materials.
Ordering Pieces Together
One crucial aspect of JIT is the bundling of orders. Instead of ordering dental/orthodontic parts separately, you should aim to consolidate your orders.
For example, most doctors treating Class II Malocclusion currently order their corrector bars and lower retainers separately. However, by taking advantage of complete kits like a SHIFT Class II Corrector Kit, you can order complete kits instead of separate components.
This approach to ordering inventory reduces the complexity of your orders, simplifies package tracking, and often helps you save on shipping costs.
Choosing Suppliers Carefully
In a JIT system, the reliability of your suppliers is paramount. You need partners who can consistently deliver high-quality products on demand. It’s important to select suppliers that offer agility—those who can deliver smaller batches of stock on short notice over frequent intervals.
To implement JIT management properly, you must build strong relationships with your suppliers and maintain open lines of communication. This way, if there’s a sudden surge in demand or an unexpected occurrence, you can collaborate to find solutions quickly.
Guaranteed turn-around times and effective customer care are two of the main aspects to look for with your suppliers. To learn more about how we approach both of those elements, click here.
Studying Inventory History to Develop Predictive Methods
An efficient JIT system requires accurate forecasting of inventory needs. By studying your inventory history, you can identify patterns, define and classify reliable and unreliable products, and understand sales velocity.
Leveraging technology can enhance your predictions significantly. For instance, an AI tool like GPT for Sheets can be a game-changer. This plugin integrates directly into your existing inventory spreadsheets, helping you identify patterns, forecast future needs, and monitor inventory in real-time. With the help of GPT for Sheets, you can leverage advanced AI algorithms to analyze historical data and generate predictive insights, thereby making your JIT system more precise and reliable.
Moreover, consider using dedicated inventory management software in tandem with AI-based tools. Such software can manage your inventory in real-time, alerting you to low stock levels or potential shortages. By taking advantage of these advanced technologies, you’ll equip your practice with the tools needed to implement an effective JIT inventory management system.
Putting It All Together
As the orthodontics landscape grows increasingly competitive, finding ways to streamline operations and reduce costs can give your practice a significant edge. Implementing something like a Just-in-Time (JIT) inventory management system in one way to gain such an edge. By harnessing the power of JIT, you can turn your inventory management from a mundane operational task into a strategic tool for enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and ultimately improving your practice’s profitability and patient satisfaction. It’s a process that requires careful planning and adoption of technology, but the benefits reaped can be transformative for you, your practice, and your bottom line.